The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) announced on 1st July an expansion of its Ebola operations to help millions of people in the three worst-affected countries recover from the deadly outbreak.
“Our ultimate goal is to re-establish the conditions for a quick return to a healthy society, with viable livelihoods, psychosocial well-being, and overall human development that can foster a more inclusive society,” said Birte Hald, IFRC team leader for Ebola coordination and support unit. “However, the immediate priority is to end the epidemic in Guinea and Sierra Leone, and mobilize volunteers to scale-up engagement with communities following a confirmed case in Liberia.
“Although disheartening, the case of Ebola in Liberia is no cause for panic,” added Hald. “It is, however, a reminder of the need to maintain vigilance in bringing the West African outbreak to an end.” Liberia had been declared Ebola-free seven weeks ago, but remained at risk with Ebola still in the region.
Guinea and Sierra Leone continue to record new confirmed cases of Ebola on a weekly basis, largely in the region of their shared borders. “These countries will not be able to begin to fully recover until they get to zero cases and stay there,” added Hald. “Tasked with overseeing safe and dignified burials, the Red Cross will use this scale-up in response to continue to maintain teams and personnel who can rapidly respond when new cases arise.”
In revising its three emergency appeals for Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone upwards to 196.7 million Swiss francs (210.5 million US dollars), IFRC is seeking an additional 87 million Swiss francs (93.1 million US dollars) to support response and recovery activities through 2017. Interventions will focus on providing assistance to 22.8 million people, particularly those most vulnerable – Ebola survivors, orphans and vulnerable children; affected households; and Red Cross and community volunteers. Activities focus on building community resilience to ensure communities are less vulnerable to disasters and crises. This includes strengthening community-based health care systems; improving immediate and long term access to food; and National Red Cross Society capacity development.
“It bears repeating that the Red Cross is best placed to help communities recover from this devastating outbreak,” said Hald. “We have more than 10,000 trained volunteers in these countries with access to the most remote communities. It would be a lost opportunity if they were not included in the strengthening of community-based health care systems.”
Recovering from the Ebola outbreak could take longer than the outbreak itself, and with the three revised emergency appeals currently underfunded, additional resources will be required to reach the goals set out in the plans and ultimately help communities build back better. “Even when we do get to zero cases in all three countries, full recovery will still take years,” explained Hald. “For that to happen, we again call on the international community to not turn away from helping the people of West Africa rebuild their lives.”
International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)